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Ramadan thoughts: Food

RAMADAN 1435 : Phulwarishareef

By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net

It’s difficult not to think about food in the month of Ramadan. Check social media and you will see pictures upon pictures of iftar and sehri food or people talking about food. This is ironical as this is the month where Muslims stay away from food all day long. Perhaps this separation causes us to think about food more than usual.

So let’s think about food, but a bit deeper than just sharing the photo or describing the taste. First of all, what makes a food halal? Is it just a particular way of slaughtering an animal or is there more to it?
So eat of that [meat] upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned, if you are believers in His verses. [Surah al-An’am; 118]

First and most important point is that Muslims are supposed to take the name of Allah on their food. This is acknowledgement of the fact that it is only Allah who is capable of giving life and therefore we have no right to take anyone’s life. If we are killing an animal to satisfy our hunger it is only within the permissive limits granted to us by Allah. This realization should restrict our over indulgence when it comes to food. It will also hold us accountable for any wasted food.

A halal way of eating should also make us think about the treatment of the animals. In the era of industrialization of food, animals are treated nothing more than a product. We have to remind ourselves that meat that we eat comes from living beings. Islam puts a big emphasis on animal rights as well. These animals should be treated with respect and dignity.

A major reason of Mad Cow disease was that animals were fed with feed containing bones of other dead animals. This feed should have immediately disqualified meat from these animals as non-halal regardless how they were slaughtered. We also have to see that our animals are not injected with growth hormones to artificially increase the body weight for maximizing profit- a business practice that will go against the Islamic principles. These growth hormones get passed on to humans that has serious implications on human health.

And it’s not just meat, we have to also think about fruits & vegetables and what effect chemical fertilizers and over use of pesticides have on our food and water. Are the farmers and farm workers getting fair wages or were they put in a tight squeeze so that we can have cheap food available to us in a different part of the world?

We should also think about why food has to travel at such a great distance to get to us? What happened to farms & jungles that used to be around us? How much of our life style responsible for this “growth” and “development” that is killing us from inside with genetically-modified and chemical-laced food. How much of human rights violations in different parts of the world is happening so that we can afford to buy a smart phone to connect to the internet to read this article, for example.

Is there a new world possible that is technologically advanced but also cares about human rights and dignity? What change we have to bring in our life to sustain this new world?

Ramadan 1435: TCN series